Thursday, June 26, 2008

Marriage and Moving

I think Dave Barry had it right. A marriage that survives a move... is pretty strong.

I mean OMG!!!!

All of our stuff won't fit on the truck. We have a deadline of around 4-5 p.m. today. Time to call the trash pickup guy. Time to make some hard decisions.

Time to decide if we take the kids and the dogs. And bicycles. And chairs we've meant to have refinished for the last 15 years. I say trash em. Trash it all (well, not the kids and dogs I guess). I've found stuff that we haven't touched since the last move. WE DON'T NEED IT.

Slept on an air mattress last night. With a leak, so by morning we were sleeping on the floor. We've still got a good 10 hours of hard labor ahead of us, plus a four-hour drive. THEN we get to unload.

Ok time to buck up and stop complaining, I know.

Sigh... back to the salt mines.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

And the big move is on, finally!

Picking up the truck today, loading, signing one contract tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., and leaving town for good tomorrow afternoon.

Am I sad? A little. I was born in St. Joseph, lived near here while growing up, and lived and taught here for the last 5 years. But I won't miss the town much. I'm too familiar with her faults and shortcomings. It's past time for a change, both for me, and for the town.

So... for the next 3-4 days, I'm prepared to work like a slave (and of course it's supposed to be 'summer' weather for the first timethis month, heh). Hopefully by this time next week, we'll be unpacking boxes and settling into a new house, a new town, and making new friends.

Wish me luck.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Honors Conservation Camp

This is a week long camp jointly sponsored by the University of Missouri's School of Natural Resources and the Missouri Department of Conservation. During the week, 32 competitively selected high school students (only students between their junior and senior year are eligible) visit two prairies, the woods, a lake and go on an overnight campout and half day float trip on the Meramac River. They listen to and participate in lessons on prairie management, forest management, lake and stream fish management, climate and atmospheric studies, small mammal trapping, electro-shocking fish, putting a camera on a deer, shooting a rifle, a shotgun, and a bow, and for the first time this year, a lecture on Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's explorations of southern Missouri; all while keeping extensive notes, reading selections from the conservation bible: The Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, and writing reflective journal entries on what they have observed, read, and how it all ties in to their own life experiences. As groups they put together and perform a 25 minute presentation on their experience on the last day of the camp.

If this sounds like a lot to do.... it is! The students typically will work until 10-11 at night, and get up at 6 in the morning for the next days activities. As you might expect from any group of 32 teenagers, there is grumbling. Occassionally a student will be selected that may not... exactly meet the high standards (students are selected based on ACT scores, their written essay, and school GPA). That's where the facilitators come in, teachers that come along and act as chaperones and cheerleaders. Sometimes these students just need some encouragement.

My job this year was as curriculum co-coordinator of the program. My particular specialty is the journaling aspect. I teach about, guide, and grade the student's journals. I get to select the best overall journal and give out the plaque. I cannot say that I've ever had a more challenging and enjoyable job. As I told the program director, I will do this as long as they will let me... and I didn't say it, but it's true, I'd do it for free.

Pictured above is a shot of Meramac Springs just below the bridge in Maramac Springs Park. The name is not mispelled here... there are two parks, one is Meramac and the other is Maramac. I'm sure there's a story there...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Joanna Brady...My Hero!

Seriously! This lady, imagined in the fertile mind of author J.A. Jance, has been through hell..literally.


First, Joanna's husband (a deputy sheriff in Cochise County, Arizona) is shot (gutshot no less) and is later finished off in the hospital by the same drug cartel assassin. Joanna tracks down the killer and his contacts within the sheriffs department and kills him after a shootout in which the current county sheriff is also killed. END OF BOOK ONE.

Joanna, at the urging of family and friends, runs for county sheriff and wins. This occurs a mere month or so after her husband was murdered. As she is settling into her new job, she stumbles across another double homicide, and ultimately ends up witnessing (causing?) the death of two more people. END OF BOOK TWO.

A month or so later, trying to get some much needed experience and training, Joanna sets off for Phoenix to go to police school. While doing so she runs afoul of a serial killer who just happens to have a connection with the training facility in which the school is held. Again, she witnesses (causes?) the death of the killer, is involved in the death of her head instructor, and the near-death of a new friend, as well as nearly losing her daughter to the serial killer. END OF BOOK THREE.

Don't get me wrong... I love these stories. Joanna is a great character, the setting is great, and the cast is varied, interesting and often humorous. I look forward to the rest of the series and will also try Jance's other series featuring a much better known sleuth, P.D. Beaumont.

But.... I gotta say, I think Joanna needs a vacation, and some therapy. I mean, after all, her husband was murdered, she has personally killed at least two men, has witnessed the gruesome death of at least 4 other people, and has nearly lost her own daughter to a psychopathic serial killer. All within about a two month span. On the plus side, she's made lots of new friends, discovered a long lost brother, and apparently found the ability within herself to shrug off horrific experiences that would leave most of us sitting in a quiet room staring off into space.

Friday, June 6, 2008

May Reading List

Lots going on right now, trying to move, finishing up school and summer school. I'm also preparing for Missouri Honors Conservation Camp this coming week. Both kids playing ball tournaments every weekend...whew!

And I finished 14 books in May, maybe a record month for me. That brings my total for the year up to 44 which easily puts me on track for my goal of 100 books. I've been using Bookmooch quite a bit, finding new authors and series to read. I've recently started J.A. Jance's Joanna Brady and Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series, and have books from Nevada Barr, James Carlos Blake, William Kent Krueger, Steve Hamilton, and David Meadows. As well as continuing with Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O'Brian.

Anyway here's the list for May with, as always, comments and short reviews.

Sibley's Birding Basics by David Allen Sibley; a nice introductory birdwatching book. If you've been following my posts, you'll notice that I spent quite a bit of time watching birds this month. Due in large part to finishing this book.
Murder With Peacocks by Donna Andrews; only slightly spoiled by my having read a later book in the series.
The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva
Mississippi Jack by L.A. Meyer; the best story yet in this series. Jacky Faber is one of my favorite characters.. resourceful, intelligent, talented, and humble.
The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly
The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula LeGuin; it took me a while to finish this short book. LeGuin has never been a favorite author, despite her reputation and despite the status of this trilogy as a classic.
The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich; interesting perspective on living below the poverty level
The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Electronic Echoes of the Mind by Wade Kimberlin; I obtained this book as a review copy from the authors wife. She and I conversed over on SFFChronicles and she asked if I would review the book. I read it...and enjoyed it! I wasn't sure about the dialogue in the beginning, but the story line and plot were built up satisfactorily and the conclusion was dramatic and left me hoping for more. I'll look for the sequel...
The Real History of the American Revolution by Alan Axelrod
The Opal Deception by Eion Colfer
Eagle Blue by Michael D'Orso
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear